The Chargé in the United Kingdom ( Atherton ) to the Secretary of State
[Received June 2—1:15 p.m.]
292. The French Ambassador61 under instructions called early last week on the Foreign Secretary and after referring to the German situation stated that in the opinion of the French Government it was desirable that there should be a realignment of the Western Powers and that France wished to establish a common policy with England in regard to sanctions and the League of Nations and that in order to render this possible the French Government would welcome an expression from the British Government of its views as to the procedure to be followed at the League Council meeting and in any case it would be helpful to have a detailed exposition of British policy with regard to the Italian-Abyssinian situation.
At the end of last week the French Embassy was informed by an Assistant Secretary of State that the Cabinet had been unable to reach any agreement on the matters of policy involved (see my 280, May 26, 1 p.m.59) and that it was doubtful whether such decisions [Page 150] could be arrived at before the end of this week. Privately and confidentially the Assistant Secretary stated that he felt that the British Government would subsequently require time to consult with the new French Government and that therefore it was probable that the Council meeting of June 16th would have to be postponed for 10 days or more particularly since it was becoming increasingly clear that the question of the continuation of sanctions must arise at that time. Incidentally he added that Grandi’s meeting with Eden (reported in my 288, May 29, 1 p.m.) had not added much to Mussolini’s Daily Telegraph interview which was inconclusive.
Accordingly the French Ambassador left Saturday for Paris to discuss the situation with the incoming government but he is returning tomorrow since the Foreign Office states today that it will have a memorandum of reply to discuss with him then. However, the French Chargé d’Affaires believes that this memorandum will not contain decisive information but will permit the British Cabinet to indicate that they have communicated with the French and in turn have asked certain questions of the French Government.
The French Ambassador considers Blum to be an advocate of close cooperating with England more especially in support of the League and at the same time advocating the summoning of a disarmament conference to attempt “real disarmament”. The French Ambassador has pointed out that such a course would be embarrassing to the British Government at the present stage of its rearmament activity and argued that the summoning of such a conference without elaborate and satisfactory diplomatic preparation would probably have a disastrous result.
The French Ambassador telephoning from Paris today stated that the incoming government was so concerned with the internal situation that it was inconceivable that it would be prepared to give early consideration to the above or in fact to take any active far-reaching steps in international affairs for the moment.